Paradise Lost

An extract from my paper I am writing for a seminar on Friday. I call this the ‘Paradise Lost’ period of Street Machining during the formative years of Street Machine magazine under the editorial control of Geoff Paradise and published by Murray Publishers. The impact of the publishing decision to replace Paradise as editor of Street Machine is yet to be fully understood. I was told by sources at ACP that Paradise is now a ‘grumpy bastard’, and after seeing what happened to him at Street Machine I can understand why. Suffice to say his replacement, Phil Scott, now has an extremely powerful position in the Australian magazine industry as the current ACP Magazines group publisher of men’s and specialist titles.

Anyway, the extract:

In the second issue of the new Street Machine & Van Wheels that the core problem of early-1980s Street Machining was clearly stated:

Now we are faced with the task of turning up more quick cars for future issues and quite frankly, that is easier said than done. What we need are fast, affordable Fords, Holdens and Mitsubishis, but there aren’t any. Not yet anyway.
Both Ford and GM-H are nearing their current model run. In this issue we have the low-down on the new Commodore. It’s interesting to a degree but it sure as hell isn’t going to rotate the earth. We figure the 4.2/4 speed will be the best bet since the 5.0 litre isn’t available with a manual.
We will of course test both cars, maybe even a comparison, but don’t expect any miracles from them because the word ‘performance’ doesn’t exist at the factories anymore. It’s anti-social to have a fast car, the market is too small say the spokesmen, people don’t want fast cars anymore, they want comfortable, economical ones. Bullshit.
We are faced with accepting what the car makers want to sell us and nothing more. Performance cars are antisocial because that’s what the advertising propaganda has us believe. If Ford or GM-H had a fast car to sell – one that they would make money out of – it would suddenly become fashionable because the advertisements would say so. What it boils down to is that the ‘Big Two’ just haven’t got their act together. They have, in essence, put performance cars in the ‘too-hard basket’. 

What emerges over the next 20 issues, up to and including the 1985 February-March issue [Paradise’s last issue], is a popularist, if not paranoid, search for what Paradise calls ‘performance’ above. I’ll assume you know what is meant by ‘performance’ […]. There were three main potential sources of ‘performance’ that I have identified in my reading of these 20 or so issues of Street Machine:

1) Firstly, there were the local car manufacturers of the time, Ford, GM Holden and Mitsubishi. Australia’s big three manufacturers were also combined with other smaller-scale producers, such as car dealers, motorsport race car driver identities, or speed shops that developed particular packages to modify new cars. The focus here was on locally produced new cars, or variations of them

2) The second source was constituted by new cars produced elsewhere, ie not-local. What was very surprising to me when reading these early Street Machine magazine issues is the prominent position in the magazine of performance cars and technologies from Japan. The prominence of the Japanese automotive technologies contradicted what I thought I already knew about Street Machine. The turbocharger is also located in this series, too. ‘Performance’ is configured in terms of what were called ‘micro-cars’, with feature articles on the Mazda SS 323, the Honda City Turbo, and what Street Machine called their own ‘Café Racer’ a modified Mazda 323.

3) Third was a primary focus on late-1960s through to early-1980s Ford, Holden and Chrysler V8 and six-cylinder powered 2- and 4-door sedans or large family cars.

What eventually happens after much to-ing and fro-ing between these three different ways of capturing performance, Street Machine settles on the third type.